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This is the eighth in our series of stories celebrating the outstanding accomplishments of youth in our community. These inspirational young adults are enriching our lives with their passion and commitment to the betterment of society.

Erinne Paisley

Our first opportunity to hear Erinne speak and witness her remarkable leadership skills was at a student rally held on the steps of the BC legislature on September 9th. Erinne had coordinated and organized the event. It brought students together from across Greater Victoria and gave them a venue to express their concerns as to how the teachers’ labour dispute was affecting their education and their future. Erinne spoke passionately and articulately about the wish of students to get back to school. And over the next few days she was extensively interviewed by the media as a spokesperson for students affected by the strike.  Erinne handled herself like a seasoned media veteran and told us “I really enjoy speaking with media”.

IMG_20140909_121418Erinne was born in Edmonton and her family moved to Victoria when she was one year old. She attended Selkirk Montessori from Kindergarten to Grade 8, then moved to Reynolds Secondary where she is now in Grade 12.

Erinne became very active at Reynolds Secondary right from Grade 9 with involvement in Leadership, Youth in Philanthropy/Vital Youth Group, the Principal’s Advisory group, Open 4 Change leadership group, Get R.E.A.L. Reynolds Environment group, the Outdoors Club and Reynolds Action NOW activist group. It was in the Principal’s Advisory group where Erinne met several older students who had a positive influence on her life. This group met weekly to discuss improvements to the school, plan assemblies and build and nurture a healthy relationship between students and Reynolds’ Principal. Erinne particularly enjoyed touring visitors through Reynolds and visiting feeder middle schools as an ambassador for the school.

10717848_789693277754036_1783128411_nErinne is an honour roll student and she has won many academic awards, including the Principal’s Shield Award. Her service to her school and community has also been recognized with numerous awards for outstanding volunteer service. Erinne has also studied violin for 8 years and completed the Royal Conservatory of Music Grade 4 level. She loves to write and she entered a national writing contest in Grade 8. She even wrote a 25,000 word novelette while in Grade 7. This year, Erinne started interning at a communication company — Reboot Communications — as a Youth Content Developer. She loves social media, speaking at conferences and organizing events.

Erinne praised the mentorship she received from the former principal of Reynolds, Alana Charlton. “She has had a lot of influence in my life” noted Erinne. In turn, Alana Charlton described Erinne as “an exceptional young woman with outstanding leadership skills”. Erinne has also been inspired by her parents and Reynolds teachers Sara Reside and Heather Coey, all of whom have “taught me so much about life”.

Erinne has fully engaged in We Day and attended their BC event every year since Grade 8. In Grade 11, she was chosen as one of ten Canadian students to attend a We Day event in London, England and a conference in Berlin, Germany as part of the National Global Citizen Scholarship Program. Erinne submitted a video to the We Day evaluation committee and was subsequently interviewed by Skype prior to her selection. She has also produced other videos on her youtube channel as part of bullying awareness and we share campaigns.

10717684_789693267754037_1343984391_nThe Reynolds Action NOW group was co-founded by Erinne and two other students while Erinne was in Grade 10. Its purpose is to bring youth together to discuss and take action upon societal issues of importance to them. The  Action NOW group arrange for external speakers at their meetings and they initiate awareness campaigns within the school. About 10 core members join Erinne in the present Action NOW group and one of Erinne’s goals is to act as a  mentor for younger students so that they can take over once she graduates.

Erinne was very excited to tell us about Reynolds’ involvement in the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock and she was overjoyed with the success of the campaign this year. Reynolds ended up bringing in just over $100,000.00 after Rudi Hoenson wrote a $7,000 cheque on the day the Tour de Rock visited the school. This sum added to the $93,202 the students had already raised.

10678823_790345731022124_8392882290693414673_nIt was an unusual year for Erinne and the Cops for Cancer team at Reynolds due to the teachers’ strike. In addition, Dean Norris-Jones, a teacher at the school who played a critical role in previous fundraising efforts, was participating as a rider in the tour this year. Remarkably, their $100,000 fundraising goal was met. As one of the co-leaders of the campaign, Erinne told us that “it was very different this year, but we persevered as a school community”.

Erinne Paisley is an incredibly talented young woman who will complete any task and do anything she puts her mind to. She already has an impressive list of accomplishments and awards in recognition of her leadership. It’s clear to us that we will be reading a lot more about Erinne in the years ahead.  Thank you, Erinne for your commitment, passion and leadership.

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